A judge has ordered payouts totalling more than £400,000 after a Blackpool bar traded without permission – for four years.
He criticised the bosses of Ma Kelly’s South, on Lytham Road, South Shore, for a ‘flagrant and persistent disregard’ for planning laws.
It followed a three-year legal battle over repeated failures to comply with planning requirements, which included amending the frontage of the property and ensuring it was adequately sound and vibration-proofed.
In his sentencing remarks, Judge Philip Parry said: “Carrying out those required works would have been considerably cheaper than the ultimate cost of these legal proceedings.”
He called the case ‘a staggering and persistent refusal to do what was required’.
Paul Kelly, who was described as the ‘de facto runner’ of the business was ordered to pay back £225,000 of the cash he made while the bar was open in breach of its planning conditions –and told he faces being jailed if he fails to pay up. He was also fined £90,000 and ordered to pay costs of £21,080.
Judge Parry was told the building, a former furniture store, was previously owned by Alveglen Properties Ltd.
The firm leased it to Kelly and his wife Paula, who wanted to turn it into a Ma Kelly’s venue, and in May 2013, planning permission was granted by the council subject to certain conditions.
However, it began trading without complying with those requirements, which were not fully complied with until last month.
Judge Parry said: “In all of that period, the cabaret bar traded. I do not have definitive figures, but I have been provided with a breakdown of the turnover during April 2015 to March 2016 when the turnover amounted to £691,156.”
After a failed appeal against an enforcement notice, Blackpool Council began legal action in April 2016.
All three denied breaching the enforcement notice on their first court appearance. Seven days later Ma Kelly’s Estates Ltd – a newly formed company of which Mr Kelly (pictured) was sole director –bought the bar.
Despite the council’s repeated contact with the new owner, nothing was done to comply and legal action was started against Ma Kelly’s Estates.
The firm was fined £56,000 for its part in breaching the order from the point it became responsible for discharging the enforcement notice.
Judge Parry added: “(Mr Kelly)reaped the benefit of continued trading over very many months in breach of a valid enforcement notice.
“Paul Kelly has provided some, but by no means all, details of his finances.
“From what I have read and heard, he is a wealthy man, owning as he does such luxuries as business and residential properties, a Rolls Royce motor car, at least one yacht, and possibly overseas properties.”
Alveglen was ordered to repay £10,000 in rent it received while the bar was in breach of the order and fined £1,500 fine and £1,500 costs.
The judge ruled that although Mrs Kelly had jointly signed the lease with her husband she ‘had very little to do, if anything’ with the running of Ma Kelly’s South. She was given a 24-month conditional discharge.
Coun Mark Smith, Blackpool Council cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and economic development, said: “Clearly the courts took a dim view of the lengthy and blatant disregard for these planning requirements.
“The situation could have been remedied at any time by carrying out the necessary works required to meet the enforcement notice.
“While we actively encourage business and enterprise in Blackpool, this case and subsequent sentence serves as a warning to businesses and residents of the need to comply with all relevant planning legislation.
“This prosecution sends out a strong message to all those that fail to adhere to planning laws within Blackpool.”